Discourse analysis methods for variation studies

Scott Kiesling (University of Pittsburgh)

Variation researchers often express skepticism or ignorance of discourse analysis and qualitative methods more generally. For those who are trained in quantitative methods, qualitative work can often seem 'fuzzy' or ad hoc. However, discourse analysis, when done well, is characterized by rigorous principles and methods, although the argumentation used is different from that typically made in variation research.

In addition, as variation theory begins to concern itself with how variants are deployed in interaction, it is becoming increasingly important for researchers to be able to analyze those interactions using methods that have been well tested.

This workshop is for variationists who are either skeptical of discourse analytic methods or wish to learn more about those methods (or both) in order to supplement quantitative findings with analyses of interaction. The goals will be to provide an explication of how DA methods are systematic and useful, and to help researchers with data begin to approach their data using these methods. DA cannot be completely taught in a little over two hours, but this workshop will give participants an understanding of why it is a useful methodology and provide a starting point for the analysis of their own data.